Bovine japes

A group of German and Czech zoologists claims that cows and wild deer tend to graze pointing in the same north-south direction. But this is news to herdsman and hunters, who despite their close proximity to the animals have failed to notice this curious phenomenon.

Cows are social animals, says Scottish cattle farmer Willy Miller

“[They] all sit down before it rains [and] huddle together in a circle formation during blizzards. But from a cow’s point of view, that’s just sensible.”

Quite. Personally, I think Sabine Begall and her colleagues are having a good laugh, possibly in conspiracy with the devilishly clever beasts of the field whose behaviour they studied.

So what is the mechanism postulated for the alleged bovine alignment? Magnetic fields, of course. It is well known that some animals have a magnetic sense that helps them navigate across vast distances. But your average cow has to do no more than find her way between one or two familiar fields and the farm’s milking shed. Not much of a challenge, that, even for a cow. And it certainly doesn’t require a biological compass.

Sorry, but I think this is a load of old pat.